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When I came to Samoa on a one-way ticket in August, I weighed in at the maximum 23kg with my one bag allowance, I squeezed my life into that bag as I wasn’t sure if I’d be here for 3 months or 3 years. 

Most of my luggage weight was used up on an 8kg slow juicer, a 5kg blender, kitchen knives, a couple of mandoline slicers, various jars, miso paste, tahini and an assortment of spices... anyone looking through my bags may’ve assumed that I’m a chef... I also brought with me a sealed bottle of kombucha with a little SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) inside – I wasn’t sure if this was illegal or not, as SCOBY’s are alive! 

As I walked nervously through customs worried about my possible contraband, I decided not to make mention of my little SCOBY mate to the lovely customs officers. I’m still unsure if my kombucha drink was illegal or not, I hope they aren’t as I have my sister bringing me another in a few weeks.

If you’re not a person who uses food as medicine or aren’t interested in your health at all, then you might want to stop reading now, I could become very boring as I try to explain why I possibly break the law every time I fly (yes, I’ve done the kombucha run more than a few times, because it’s worth it). 

Let me explain;

First of all, I hope I’m not incriminating myself by sharing that little story, if I am – then that was all just a fictitious little yarn to make you giggle before I get into the science of how you can become a whole lot healthier just by eating delicious foods that will stop you craving sugary junk food (big claim, but oh so delightfully true).

Humans have been fermenting foods for as long as we’ve been eating, there is a migratory pattern  of fermented dishes throughout the world which you can trace back millennia. Each culture has their own take on f(l)avourites like the variations of Kimchi throughout Asia; sauerkrauts throughout Europe and poi and noni’s throughout our Pacific paradise. We would ferment and preserve foods when we were nomadic and during the long cold winters so we had enough to eat. 

Here in Samoa our fofo held a knowledge of the healing benefits from fermented plant medicines like noni long before scientists were doing microbial research on fermented foods in laboratories.

Hark to a new era and we’ve found out a lot about our foods of old and the beneficial affects they have on our health and happiness. When foods are fermented they create probiotics, like my little stowaway SCOBY mate, she is a living Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, and when fed on sugary black tea she produces a probiotic bi product which is super beneficial for the bacterium in our guts, our guts love the stuff and thrive on it. The same goes for sauerkrauts and kimchi – the process of fermenting cabbage in salt produce other probiotics that feed the trillion or so bacteria living in our gut.

Unfortunately these probiotics that our bodies love so much aren’t really present in the everyday diets anymore as we’ve lost our way with foods, opting for store bought products which tend to be full of sugars and preservatives. Luckily, food is like fashion and certain things come back.

Yes! There has been a resurgence in home fermenting, it’s quite the cool thing around the world to get together with friends to brew beers and ciders, smash cabbages, chop chillies and play around with food and then just let everything sit and ferment. Time and temperature do the rest once your yumminess is jarred, barrelled or crocked up – it’s genius, food as medicine!, cheap preventative delicious medicinal foods that add a wonderful vinegary taste to any plate. I admit, I’ve had some people turn their noses up at the smell and taste of my kimchi and sauerkraut, but these people all change their minds once they know the benefits. You cultivate a taste for these things and they actually become something you miss when you’re not eating them on the daily basis. Back in Australia I was running 2 hour workshops on how to make different ferments and will soon be doing that here. I’d like to see changes in the health of our local people as we seem to be going through a mass sickness with obesity, diabetes and heart disease - all on the rise. 

 

We have one of the highest rates of 

diabetes in the world. 

We can change that.

 

5 quick facts about the benefits of eating probiotics 

1 – There are 10 times more probiotics than cells in our body

- what we feed these little guys is the result of our current health.

2. Probiotics live throughout our entire body, not just our guts

- yup they’re in your ears, nose, lungs, mouth, eyes and your vagina aswell.

3. Probiotics fight colds, cancer and constipation

- when your gut flora is good you have a better defence team to fight off infections and flush crap out faster

4. There are more than 100 (known) benefits to ingesting probiotics

- my favourite of recent research is that they increase your serotonin levels, making you a happier person, yup – you can fight depression with kimchi!

5. Probiotics will soon replace antibiotics and anti anxiety medications

- Your homework is to check out google for all the latest research, prepare to have your mind blown.

At home kimchi recipe – super easy, super delicious

1 head of cabbage, cored and chopped

3 carrots, shredded

4 bok choy, chopped

1 onion, diced

ginger, garlic and chilli – to your taste

1 daikon radish, shredded

2 tblsp of salt

 

Chuck it all in a big pot and smash it (with an empty Vailima bottle?) till there is lots of juice.

Spoon mix into 2 bail lid jars (you can get these at Farmer Joes – they’re the jars with the rubber seal and metal clip). 

You always want to have the juice covering your veggies, so every day for about 5 days you’ll need to push the veggies down with a wooden spoon – after about 5 days your kimchi should be ready to eat – fridge up to slow the ferment... delicious healthy probiotic heaven! - (you’ve created life!, sciencemazing!) Unbelievably good with breadfruit wedges and guacamole! - Enjoy x

 

Rachel Laulu is Ferment fiend who happens to offer private meditation and yoga classes to corporate groups, schools, retreats and individuals. If you have any inquiries please feel free to contact Rachel via email at yogasamoa@gmail.com or add her on facebook through her Yoga Samoa group page


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